Visual artist Theo Mercier and dancer Steven Michel (recipients of the Silver Lion for Dance at the 2019 Venice Biennale) build an ironic and ruthless critique against the illusion of freedom and well-being promoted by major commercial powers. In fact, the protagonists of their choreography are IKEA shelves and furniture to be assembled at home- symbols of a “beauty within everyone’s reach”. We are presented here with a starter kit for building and deconstructing objects, bodies, norms and social standards.
Théo Mercier was born in Paris in 1984. He lives and works between Paris and Mexico. He studied in Paris at the National School of Industrial Design (ENSCI) and in Berlin at the Universität der Künste (UDK). Alongside Bernhard Willhelm, he worked on his Björk stage costume collection before moving to New York in 2008 to assist Matthew Barney on his opera project River of Fundament. A resident of Villa Medici in 2013 and nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2014, Theo Mercier has since exhibited in personal exhibitions at the Museo El Eco in Mexico City and the Musée de l’Homme in Paris (2017), at MAC Marseille (2016), Lieu Unique in Nantes (2013), Tri Postal in Lille (2012), Le Musée de la Chasse et de la nature and le 104, Paris, both upcoming in 2019. Among the collective exhibitions in which he participated are Hello world (Hamburger Banhof in Berlin, 2018), Hybrides, the body in question (Palacio Bellas Artes, Mexico, 2018), In the studio (Frac Bretagne, Rennes 2018), The Silent Echo (Museum of the archaeological site of Baalbek, Lebanon, 2016), Trouver le garçon (MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Sein, 2015) and Le surréalisme et l’objet (Centre Pompidou – Musée National d’Art Moderne, 2013).
Steven Michel – Steven Michel (°1986, France) studied mime and musical from an early age, and dance and percussion as a teenager, before settling in Brussels in 2006. He went on to study at P.A.R.T.S. and graduated as a performer and choreographer in 2010. As a performer, Steven worked with choreographers, play and film directors such as David Zambrano, Falk Richter, Lukas Dhont, Daniel Linehan and Maud le Pladec amongst others. Over the last six years he became a long-time collaborator of Jan Martens, performing in productions such as SWEAT BABY SWEAT (2011), VICTOR (2013), THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER (2014), THE COMMON PEOPLE (2016) and soon RULE OF THREE (2017), Jan Martens’ newest production. Parallel to his work as performer, Steven developed his own choreographic practice. In 2009 he created the duet ± Even but Odd in collaboration with Nicholas Aphane. A few years later in 2014, Steven began a research based on the theme of ‘audio-vision’, the relation between image and sound in performance, which resulted in his solo THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (2016) which is still currently touring. In this work, Steven’s interest in sound, rhythm, animation and image finds its full form. In THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS the body is treated with the same importance as light, scenography and music to create one synesthetic symphony on stage which excites the imagination and overturns the perception of the audience. Stevens interest in interdisciplinary collaboration between the field of performance and other art forms stays present in his work as a choreographer and his own activity as performer. His project Affordable solution for better living is a collaboration with the French visual artist Théo Mercier in which they will examine the issues of standardized bodies and fixed paths in relation to the illusion of freedom disseminated by corporate powers.
Coreography: Théo Mercier e Steven Michel
With: Steven Michel
Text: Jonathan Drillet
Off-voice: Jonathan Drillet, Fanny Santer
Set design: Théo Mercier e Steven Michel
Lights: Éric Soyer
Sound: Pierre Desprats
Costumes: Théo Mercier e Steven Michel
Costumes Artwork: Dorota Kleszcz
Stage management: François Boulet
Production: Nanterre-Amandiers, Centre Dramatique National | Booking in collaboration with: Art Happens – Sarah de Ganck | Executive production: Nanterre-Amandiers, Centre Dramatique National, apap – Performing Europe 2020 – with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
coproduzione Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy
In Collaboration With: workspacebrussels / Life Long Burning | with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union | Thanks to Actoral – Festival international des arts et des écritures contemporaines & Montévidéo, Créations Contemporaines – Atelier de Fabrique Artistique, La ménagerie de verre, Campo-Gand (Belgium) and Jean-Paul Lespagnard